Tips for Living in the City With a Baby
My husband and I lived in Boston for close to four years before making the move to Chicago almost eight months ago. So we’ve been doing this city-living thing for a while now, and we have loved it. Growing up a suburbanite in Southern Indiana, the big city has been an exciting, eye-opening and welcome change of pace in my life. It has been so convenient and fun to have the ability to walk or take the train or a cab to any destination my heart desires. I actually sold my car upon moving to Boston, and it didn’t phase me at all. In short, I’ve loved the city life and everything that comes with it.
Enter: baby. This is where my love affair with city living shifts a bit. This is not to say that my feelings have done a 180. They haven’t. But my love for the city no longer runs quite as deep as it used to. My husband and I have learned a few things over the past five months that can make your life easier while navigating the experience that is living in the city with a baby – some things that we’ve done right and some that we wish we would have done differently.
- Remember where you’re living when choosing a stroller. Just because your friend in the suburbs swears by her stroller, it doesn’t mean that it’s the right fit for you and your lifestyle. For one, you’ll probably be using yours a lot more because you walk more places. The terrain you cover is likely different too. You need a stroller that can take on the city sidewalks; not one that’s only suitable for perfectly-paved neighborhood sidewalks and the mall. Also take into consideration the weight of the stroller. It’s one thing to fold up the stroller and throw it in your trunk. It’s quite another to lug it up a flight or two of stairs.
- Speaking of stairs, if you can avoid it, live on the second floor or lower if you’re living in a walk-up. We live in a second story walk-up, and every time I carry Beckett in his car seat up those two flights of stairs, I am thankful that we didn’t choose a third floor unit. Babies gain weight quite rapidly, and in no time flat you’re carrying a 16 pound baby, plus the weight of a car seat, and working up a serious sweat.
- Find a home with a garage or assigned parking space. This was a sizable mistake on our part. I honestly didn’t even think twice about making it a priority, but I definitely should have. Just as you have to carry your baby plus the car seat up the stairs, you also have to carry your baby plus the car seat to and from your car – no matter where it’s parked. This means if the closest spot you can find is two blocks away, then you have a nice little workout to look forward to upon exiting your car. It may cost a little extra for this perk, but you’ll be glad you did it.
- We all know that living in the city is going to be noisier than living in the suburbs. That’s a given. But pay close attention to where in the city or neighborhood you’re living. We live in a relatively quiet neighborhood. It’s family-friendly, and I literally have never seen so many pregnant women and strollers in all my life. So I had no reservations about moving to our current location. The one mistake we made, though, was living near the intersection of the main road in our neighborhood where all of the shops and restaurants are. Consequently, there’s a constant buzz of cars, horns honking and conversation that can be easily heard from inside our apartment. You do get more used to it over time, but it can be stressful when someone decides to blare their horn right after I’ve gotten Beckett down for a nap. Just be mindful of your surroundings.
- Insist on having an in-unit washer and dryer. This is one thing we definitely did right. Everyone tells you about how much laundry babies produce, but they really do. If I had to go to a laundromat to do our laundry, I don’t know that I would ever be at home. Even in-building accessibility is not ideal in my opinion when you think about the logistics of it. Not only are you carrying your laundry to the in-building laundry facility, but you’re also carrying your baby. Washing, drying and folding isn’t the most enjoyable experience to begin with, so make it as easy on yourself as you can.
- Prioritize space over granite countertops. I was so concerned with finding a nice apartment; partially for my husband and me, but mostly for the baby we were about to have. If I would have known then what I know now, I would have been more concerned with finding the biggest apartment possible in our price range rather being concerned with the finishes in the kitchen and bathroom. Babies are small, but they come with so many things and eventually need to move around. Beckett is starting to roll and move about. As a result, we have moved the coffee table to the side in our small living room so that he can have the space he needs to move and explore. If your unborn baby (and your future self) could talk to you, he/she would tell you to forego the stainless steel and opt for more square footage instead.
There are so many facets of city living with a baby that you can’t possibly comprehend until you actually do it. So seek out advice from others when it comes to this, and most importantly, seriously consider and take their advice. Living in the city with a baby isn’t easy by any means, but there are ways you can make it easier.